Telstra called to accountTelstra has been warned for breaching the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code 2007 (TCP Code).
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said that between 2006 and 2012 Telstra incorrectly billed a large number of international data roaming customers multiple flag fall fees for single data sessions.
The incorrect bills reflected incorrect information Telstra received from international carriers and its contracted data clearing house.
The ACMA said the TCP Code required providers to bill customers accurately allowing for certain exceptions. One such exception was where the inaccuracy was caused by reliance on information provided by contractors.
“Whether Telstra could rely on this exception was a key issue for this investigation,” the ACMA said.
It found that Telstra could rely on this exception only until early 2009 when it first received a complaint from a consumer who had been incorrectly billed for multiple overseas data sessions.
Chairman of ACMA, Chris Chapman said accurate billing was of the utmost importance.
“Our investigation makes it very clear that all telcos need to listen to their customers who report billing problems and be vigilant about any potential issues with the information provided to them by third parties.”
He said when the information problem was discovered, Telstra promptly identified all customers who were incorrectly charged for international data roaming and was systematically providing rebates. It had also permanently ceased charging a flag fall fee for international roaming data services.
“The ACMA’s decision on this occasion to formally warn Telstra for the breach took into account the facts that Telstra was not the original cause of the problem; that this was the first time a billing issue of this nature had been investigated under the TCP Code; that Telstra itself reported the matter; and that Telstra appears to be otherwise currently compliant with the relevant parts of the TCP Code 2012,” Mr Chapman said.
“Importantly, Telstra proactively implemented a comprehensive program of compensation that mitigated the harm for affected customers.”
Edition 380, 24 September 2013